Association of hepatitis E seropositivity and altered progesterone levels in pregnant women of low socioeconomic status from capital region of Pakistan

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Objectives: To investigate the seroprevalence of hepatitis E virus infection, risk factors and its association with progesterone levels in pregnant women from low socioeconomic background.

Methods: The cross-sectional study was conducted in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan, from January to July 2012, and comprised pregnant asymptomatic healthy females from different clinics and hospitals of the twin cities. Data was collected using a predesigned demographic questionnaire to determine socioeconomic status. Prevalence of anti-hepatitis E virus antibodies and progesterone levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits.

Results: Of the 90 women, 35(39%) were in the 21-25 year age group, and 55(61%) belonged to low socioeconomic background. The overall prevalence of seropositive hepatitis E virus immunoglobulin-G was 54(60%) and immunoglobulin-M was 12(13.3%). In the first trimester, the levels of progesterone were higher in patients positive for immunoglobulin-M compared to immunoglobulin-G (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Low socioeconomic status appeared to be a potential risk factor associated with high hepatitis E virus seroprevalence and alterations in the normal progesterone levels during pregnancy.

Key Words: Hepatitis E virus, HEV, Progesterone, Seroprevalence, Pakistan.